Dear Friends,

2011 was a banner year for ESLT. Highlights included celebrating our 10th birthday, receiving accreditation by the Land Trust Alliance’s Accreditation Commission, and increasing the total number of conservation easements to fifteen.

President of the Board, Tony Taylor, cuts the cake at ESLT’s 10th birthday party.

Yet these achievements didn’t happen overnight. They are instead the culmination of years of effort and diligent behind-the-scenes work on the part of ESLT staff, Board, and volunteers. The accreditation process alone involved years of planning and paperwork. The reward for this effort was a seal of approval confirming that ESLT meets national standards of excellence in land conservation, upholds the public trust, and ensures permanent conservation. Only 135 of the 1,700 land trusts in the U.S. have received this distinction, and we are proud to be among them.

This year’s conservation achievements are the result of years of working with individual landowners, attorneys, appraisers, state and federal funding agencies and others to coordinate the many components that result in a successful conservation easement. One of our agreements took three years to complete, while another took nearly a decade. The kind of work we do requires us to take the long view, as land protection agreements are complex, and unforeseen delays are inevitable. In this challenging economic climate, state and federal funding for conservation easements has become harder to secure, leading to even longer delays in project completion.

Centennial Ranch conservation easement preserves an additional 718 acres, adding to the 6,390 acres of Centennial Ranch already under easement in the Bridgeport Valley.

Yet despite these delays, we are achieving permanent protection for beloved Eastern Sierra landscapes. Slowly and steadily, we are making
progress in the race to preserve the area’s working farmlands and wildlife habitat. Our success would not be possible without our loyal volunteers and members, whose sustained support enables us to conduct this ongoing work. Thank you for being here for us and for joining us on this long journey. Here’s to more shared conservation successes in the coming decade!

In trust,

Tony Taylor, President

Karen Ferrell-Ingram, Executive Director

Click here to read the 2011 ESLT Annual Report in its entirety online.

ESLT members and supporters enjoy a field trip on Crowley Hilltop Preserve.